The producers of “God’s Not Dead” are facing a $100 million lawsuit over the highly successful faith-based film’s origins. Kelly Kulberg, who wrote a screenplay called “Rise” inspired by her autobiography “Finding God Beyond Harvard: The Quest for Veritas,” claims that “God’s Not Dead” is based on her story.
“The theme, set-up, opportunity, turning point, change of plans, complications, setback, final push, climax, and aftermath of the Rise screenplay and the God’s Not Dead motion picture are the same,” reads the complaint against Pure Flix Entertainment and David A.R. White. “By producing ‘God’s Not Dead,’ defendants destroyed plaintiffs’ prospects for producing a motion picture based on their ‘Rise’ screenplay.” Michael Landon, Jr. is also a plaintiff in the case, as he was set to direct and produce “Rise.”
The complaint also states the similarities between the two stories, namely that both feature “a young college student who has to confront a popular and charming atheist professor in three debates, who struggles in the first debate, but succeeds in the next two after encouragement from supporting characters, including an unmarried local pastor, a rural married couple, the atheist professor’s wife who is also the professor’s former student (a lapsed Christian who questions her own beliefs and observances) and an international student ally, and manages to persuade many others, including the professor, that God does exist.”
“God’s Not Dead” made $62.6 million at the box office in 2014; its sequel, released this April, made $23.3 million.